After we’d been married a short while and had our first child, my wife Mary and I decided it was time to buy a house. We looked around the New York City/Northern New Jersey area for a few months, but everything nice we couldn’t afford and everything we could afford wasn’t nice.
We learned that my sister Helen and her husband Tom were also looking, and they were having similar results. So, we put our heads together and realized that while single-family homes were too expensive, a two-family home was within our combined reach.
We thought about maybe going for a multi-family home and renting out the excess. Then we happened to catch “Pacific Heights,” a thriller starring Michael Keaton as a deranged madman who rents from a couple that leveraged themselves to buy this great multi-family and he proceeds to ruin them. Umm…
We decided on the two-family.
So we saw a bunch of places of varying quality, including several gems:
- One realtor took us to a three-family unit, a pretty nice place. She said the third unit was being rented by a couple of Iranian guys and we’d have to keep them as tenants, but they shouldn’t be any trouble. (As she’s talking about them, they’re arguing with each other at the top of their lungs.) Oh, and did I mention that in the basement was an entire pallet full of rat traps. Umm… no.
- We saw a lovely place in Little Ferry that had no basement and sat in a flood plain. There were signs of water damage everywhere. Umm… no.
- My favorite place was a nice home in Lakehurst NJ, a sleepy town who’s claim to fame was the Hindenberg disaster. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon as we drove down the street and parked on the right side of the street. As we got out of the car, we waited for a car to pass. It had an older gentleman in the passenger seat and a young girl behind the wheel. The car drove down the street somewhat fast, and then made a sharp left turn and crashed into the corner of a house.
The older gentleman (Dad, probably) got out yelling at the girl (daughter, for the moment), and the girl was crying. We, of course, were trying very hard not to laugh.
Then the realtor turns to us and directs us to check out the lovely home for sale, that’s right on the other side of the driveway. Yes, two feet to the right and the girl hits the house for sale.
Umm… hell no.
The months of fruitless search is wearing on us, until Mary mentions to her friend Jackie that we’re looking for a house. Jackie says, “Come on up to Monroe, there’s lots of houses for sale here.”
We go one Saturday afternoon, look at three houses, put in an offer on one, and we end up buying it. Why the hell didn’t we do that to begin with?
I’ve spent more time buying shoes.